Last week, the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) fired off a broadside to criticize studios for experimenting with “day & date” releases for their major theatrical releases. The exhibitor trade group specifically called out Disney and the disappointing drop-off in the box office for Black Widow, the latest offering featuring characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Despite being praised by critics and audiences, the box office returns dropped unusually quickly after a few strong days in theatres. What’s more, recent openers A Quiet Place 2 and F9: The Fast Saga did not experience the same degree of box office decline, and were offered to theatres under a 45-day exclusivity window. The NATO letter argues that Disney missed out on revenue opportunities as a result of its day & date release, in part because of rampant piracy from online channels, noting that Black Widow was the most pirated film over the Internet during its opening week.
The NATO letter was among its most direct and assertive statements during the pandemic era, arguing against the wisdom of day & date releasing from major studios. The Hollywood press corps had a mixed reaction, including IndieWire’s Tom Brueggemann who discredited NATO’s argument as being incomplete and using cherry-picked data to support its pre-determined conclusions.
See also: Blaming Disney+ for the ‘Black Widow’ Drop Was Not a Smart Argument (IndieWire)